Thursday, June 28, 2012

Killing Time in Arkansas

After baby Noelle was released to us, we had a week to ourselves to explore northwest Arkansas. While we were limited to how adventurous we could be because of our days old baby, we had never been to the area before and wanted to explore a bit.

We went to a touristy town in the Ozarks called Eureka Springs. Reminded me a bit of Jackson Hole. We went on a steam engine train ride.

Made some souvenirs

Went shopping

And this is where I saw the beautiful dress that Noelle wore for her blessing and sealing. We had a lot of fun and beautiful Noelle got a lot of attention everywhere we went. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Oxygen Bag Reality: Surviving Parenthood by Being Selfish

Have you ever listened to the emergency instructions given by the flight attendant at the beginning of a flight? Most of us probably tune her (or him) out. Unless it's your first time flying. Then you follow along with the emergency pamphlet and everything.

There's always a line that goes something like this, " In the unlikely event of pressure loss in the cabin, oxygen masks will drop from panels in the ceiling. Place the mask over your mouth and nose like this. Oxygen is flowing even if the bag is not inflated. If you are travelling with a passenger who may need assistance, put the mask over your face before helping others." 

That is not the exact script, but my best guess at the moment. 

I got to thinking about this.

It's kind of funny that we have to be reminded on every flight to help ourselves before we help others. Why is that? Because people are stupid? Yes, people are stupid, but that's probably not why. I have a feeling that if these words said what they really, really mean, the script would instead say something like this, "In the unlikely event of pressure loss in the cabin, oxygen masks will drop from panels in the ceiling. Place the mask over your mouth and nose like this. Oxygen is flowing even if the bag is not inflated. If you are a parent flying with your child, listen up. Put your mask on first. Then you can help your kid. You are no use to them if you are unconscious from lack of air. Plus, it will take you two seconds tops to put your mask on and you know it will take at least four minutes to help your child if they are under the age of five. Unless you have millions in life insurance and a sister-in-law you think will make a better mother to your child than you or your spouse, ensuring your continued existence is actually helping your kids."

Of course when it comes to federal messages, they are never that direct are they?

Parents tend to put themselves last.

I am now the parent of two children. I find myself sacrificing twice as much. 

Beautiful picture but deceiving. Most days I don't even put on pants let alone do hair or makeup. Or eat.

I found myself thinking of the "oxygen bag reality" about two weeks ago when I was feeding and rocking baby Noelle at 10 p.m., sobbing because I hadn't eaten a bite of dinner that I had made and served my family at 6 o'clock and I was starving. Oh, and I had to go to the bathroom in a bad way too. 

What can I say? I hear that baby cry, and I put all my needs on hold so I can take care of hers. Even in the middle of the night when I have to pee so bad, I forego it. I jump out of bed, quickly mix a bottle, grab the baby swiftly - yet gently! - and start feeding and rocking her whilst tapping my toes to keep my urine in my bladder.

So is not going to the bathroom really like not giving myself oxygen in the event of a flight emergency? Is my metaphor a little out there? Possibly. But when I have to pee so bad, I am not as patient of a mother. I do not want to sing lullabies. I do not want to snuggle and take an extra few seconds for loving caresses and kisses.

And if I don't eat dinner until after 10 p.m., you bet my family suffers. I become a basket case.

So I am taking an initiative to make sure I do a quickie pee before I do a midnight feeding. I am taking an initiative to eat when I need to. To ask for help when I need it. To shower on schedule. A little self-care goes a long, long way. I am not talking pedis and facials and weekend trips to Lake Powell. That's superfluous. I am talking about the basic building blocks of life (like oxygen!) that many parents sacrifice for their child - proper nutrition, proper rest, and proper hygiene.

So from here on out, I'm putting my mask on first.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

I Want, I Want, I Want!!!

We've been in savings mode for almost two years. We've made a LOT of good progress and we still have miles to go.

But I gotta say, I've been slacking a bit.

I am getting impatient and I really want to switch from savings mode to acquisition mode. :)

This will all probably sound bratty and selfish and ungrateful, but just to get this out of my system, I want to write down everything I have been wanting lately. And I want to preface it all with this: I know I am phenomenally blessed and if nothing changes in my life for the rest of forever, I would be a heckuva happy girl.

New carpet
Wooden blinds
New headboard for my room that doesn't cover the window
Car repairs - my front signals don't work and my right side mirror doesn't work
New counter tops (Formica would be fine)
New pots and pans 
New flatware
New table
Patio furniture
Drawer organizers
Jewelry organizers
Repaint and redecorate probably about 50% of my house
And a remodel of the master bedroom, the downstairs bedroom, and well...maybe I should just get a new house. :)

I wonder if it's the fact that I am home all day in my house now that so much about it is driving me crazy?

Back in March, we got a new fridge. Oh man how I hated my old fridge and it finally gave out so I had no choice but to get a new one. Justin also got a small inheritance that worked out to be just the amount we needed for a fridge. And I love it.

It barely, barely fit. There isn't a centimeter of wiggle room on either side of the fridge and Justin and my brother had to remove and raise the above-the-fridge cabinet.

Now if only my carpet would go out so I would be forced to replace it. Hehehe.

And the whole time I've been thinking about this post, I've had the Mary Chapin Carpenter song "Passionate Kisses" going through my head: Shouldn't I have it? Shouldn't I have it? Shouldn't I have all of this and passionate kisses from you?

What's on your wish list?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Baby Makes Three - Noelle's Placement Day

On May 10, we arrived in Arkansas in the evening and spent some time at the hospital. Then we got some food, did a little Walmart shopping to stock up our kitchen, and found our lovely hotel.

The next morning, we slept in a bit and then went to the hospital. We probably arrived close to 10 a.m. We were told to bring breakfast. We brought a dozen mixed donuts, hot breakfast sandwiches from Burger King, some Bartlett pears, and orange juice.

Before arriving, the translator texted me to say something came up and she wasn't going to be there when we arrived, but she would be there later. So we were prepared for an interesting morning with halted communication.

Anyway, we got to the hospital, knocked on the door of the birth mother's room and entered with our arms full of goodies. The sadness of the day was palpable. The mother was in the corner, her backs to us, keeping busy by folding baby clothes into piles. Try as she might, she couldn't disguise the sounds of her quiet crying. The father greeted us and handed us the baby. We awkwardly sat on the couch, listening to the mother cry. I asked the father if we should leave. He told us no, we should stay. Then he took a donut and excused himself to look after some administrative business at the front desk. 

Justin and I exchanged pained looks as we sat there in silence on the couch, holding a beautiful sweet baby that I just wanted to snuggle and kiss and coo over, yet shocked into silence by the sounds of crying coming from her mother.

More than anything, I just wanted to pull this woman aside and ask her what she needed from us. Had she changed her mind? I would understand. Listening to her cry, part of me wanted her to change her mind. Did she want to be alone? Did she need to soak up her last few hours with the baby? Did she need to have a heart to heart with me, mother to mother, so I could promise her I would always love and cherish her baby and give her everything in my power?

It felt like we were frozen in that uncomfortable moment forever, though it was maybe ten minutes. K (the birth mother) got on her phone and was speaking Marshallese. Then she handed the phone to us. It was the translator. "K wants me to tell you not to worry about her crying and the noise she is making. She wants you to know everything is okay and you have nothing to worry about."

Oh my goodness. My heart just fell into my toes. Here is this woman mourning over the imminent loss of her precious child with only a few hours left as her mother, and she is worried about how we feel? Talk about true love, true charity. I was humbled.

The birth father, G, returned. K stopped crying and we tried to eat some breakfast and talk a little. Conversation was hard with a lot of awkward laughing and smiling filling in the gaps.

I wore this shirt on Jocelyn's placement day, too. 

The translator called me and told me that she wouldn't be able to come at all. She was too busy with something else. That threw a wrench into things a little bit. We had found a local lawyer who would finalize and we had all the papers that needed to be signed, but the birth parents needed to sign them in front of a notary and they needed a translator to go over all the documents with them to ensure an understanding of what they were signing. The hospital employs a notary and we were planning on doing all the signing there. Suddenly I didn't know what to do. It was a bigger pickle than just not being able to communicate. The clock for birth parents changing their minds and the clock for finalization begins at signing. This was Friday. If they didn't sign that day, we wouldn't be able to sign until Monday, tacking an extra three days into our wait (not to mention an extra three days car rental and hotel rental). 

The translator just told me to have the birth parents sign the papers without her. I wasn't comfortable with that. I didn't want any kind of loopholes that would cause problems down the road - "We didn't know what we were signing. It was in our second language." Not that I felt the birth parents had any intentions like that, but it's not worth the risk.

I told her that she had to be there at signing. She asked if I could ask the lawyer he hired if he would come in on a Saturday for the signing. I was pretty sure that scenario would never fly so I didn't even toy with the idea. I insisted that she come and we do it today. She said if we all me at the lawyer's office, that would work.

The birth parents were ready to go. They were all packed, all dressed, and it seemed like they were ready to rip the band-aid off. But their ride hadn't arrived yet and the baby still had a computer chip on her umbilical cord.

I really didn't know what was going on. We were told the translator would take care of everything, but we quickly learned that we had to be in charge - not her. With Jocelyn, the entire hospital staff knew who we were. Doctors and nurses spoke to us and gave us instructions. Of course we had case workers there too. We were flying blind this time. Since K and G were ready to go and they were looking to us for guidance. So I walked out to the nurses' station and introduced myself and asked what needed to happen for us to be discharged with the baby.

Surprise, surprise - no one at the hospital knew this baby was being placed for adoption. One of the nurses apologetically admitted that she had convinced K to breastfeed. The nurses weren't sure what to do either. They copied the relinquishment paperwork. Discharge took a little longer and K and G were really ready to go, especially once G's sister showed up (she was their ride). Finally a nurse came in to do the official discharge. She was extremely kind and accommodating to us. She went over all the health and safety stuff. When she learned we would be in a hotel for awhile, she loaded us up with ready-to-use bottles and nipples. Close to $100 of formula. So generous. She removed the chip from Noelle's cord and we were free to go.

There wasn't a lot of tears or fanfare leaving the hospital. I guess because we were going to head straight to the lawyer's. With Jocelyn, leaving the hospital was the hard part. So we went straight to the lawyer's office. We had the baby in our car and K, G, and G's sister P followed us. The translator met us there. I figured the tears and heart-wrenching goodbyes would happen at the law office. No. Not at all. Things went really smoothly. We lingered, making sure K and G had time to say goodbye. We invited them to go out for dinner later. G had to work so they declined. 

We returned to our hotel. It felt so strange to suddenly have a baby in the backseat. That whole - we're going in as two and coming out as three thing. So weird. I wonder if the feeling is as weird for biological children. In a way, with a pregnant woman and husband you go in as three and come out as three - it's just that the location of the third one is a little bit different. :)

We finally had the space fully feel the happiness that had been waiting in the wings. Without an audience, we adored Noelle. We counted her toes. We smelled her head. We snuggled her and kissed every inch of her cheeks. We called our parents. We took pictures. She was ours and our hearts were free to fall in love with her. And we did. 

We unwrapped her and got a good look at her.

First diaper change. 

Changed her clothes.

Said goodbye to our hearts.

With our new little addition, we went out to a nice dinner at pub on the Arkansas State University campus. It had gorgeous woodwork and the food was delicious. And we went back to our hotel to enjoy our first night with our new baby girl.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Today Is My 6 Week Old's Due Date

Seven weeks ago if you had asked me what I would be doing today, I would have said that I would be in Arkansas awaiting the birth of my brand new baby. You see, today was her due date.

Funny joke, right?

Instead, I am watching The Big Bang Theory and listening to my six week old baby coo in her sleep next to me.

Life is kind of funny, isn't it?

I have been playing catch up on everything that happened in Arkansas (and I still have miles to go) that I have neglected to blog about the present. So I will do that now.

Today Noelle is six weeks old.

She is a chub with the cutest thigh rolls and kissable cheeks and neck rolls that are hard to keep clean. She is such an expressive baby. I love when she looks and me and raises her eyebrows and her entire forehead crinkles. She has been smiling for close to a month now, though the smiles are more frequent and easier to come by now. And she has been giggling for maybe three weeks now. But she only laughs in her sleep. Usually it is just as she is drifting off in my arms. It's the most miraculous sound. I love it. She is giggling at her guardian angels who are telling her stories. She has always been a voracious eater. The rolls on her legs can testify to that. :) But they are adorable rolls. Her routine has stabilized over the past week or ten days. She eats four ounces every four hours. She has gotten down to one night time feeding. She'll eat around 11:00, then around 3:00 a.m. and then at 8:30. I can handle that! Noelle has also started to track objects. She loves the mobile above her swing. She has started responding to my voice.

Joci reading her sister a bedtime story. She is always so gentle and loving. 

 Also, since I am playing a bit of catch up, here are her 2 week statistics. She'll have another appointment at two months. 

Height: 20 inches
Weight: 7 lbs 5.5 oz
Head: 36 cm

I don't remember the percentiles, but nothing was extreme.

Noelle at two weeks

My sister Julie from Arizona whom we rarely see was on a rare vacation in this part of the country so we hurried and put together Noelle's blessing and sealing. We blessed her in church on Sunday, June 10th.

We were sealed in the Rexburg Temple on June 13, which is an important ordinance in the LDS/Mormon faith. It was an extremely spiritual and sacred experience. So special. My brother Brad could not make it due to work conflicts (and the very short notice I gave everyone). I missed him terribly. We were missing both of my brothers-in-law too. But considering the distance and schedules of my entire family, I think we had the highest family attendance we could have had. 

Rexburg Idaho Temple - so beautiful

Julie, Jordan, Justin, Cindy, Joci, Lara, Noelle, Normandie, Stephanie, and David

Pure joy!

Joci LOVES this dress. It was so hard to keep her out of it until our special day. 

With both of us dressed up, Joci kept saying we were both princesses. So true.

We had a family luncheon afterwards Pacific Island style. Roasted pig, coconut rice, teriyaki rice bowls, pineapple soda, tiki torches, key lime pie, and a chocolate fountain (not sure if that is authentic Pacific Island, but really, a chocolate fountain makes any party better). 

flowers in a coconut bowl for centerpieces

Island food catered by Rumbi Island Grill

Hang on to your plates or they will blow away - and you'll get a drink full of rice, right Jonah?

Ellie would have held Noelle all day

Chocoholism runs in this family. Ellie and Stephanie.

My island princess

Jessica loving her turn with the baby

Audrey doesn't mess around when it comes to the chocolate fountain!

Justin and I set up for the party the night before. But since this is Idaho, we got an uninvited guest - the wind. It blew our decorations away, blew our table cloth off, and blew the chocolate from the fountain all over the porch. We moved it inside. We all ate and hung out. Well, all of us except Noelle. Mostly, she just did this:

So that brings us up to speed on my darling Miss Noelle. I can't take her anywhere without strangers stopping me to talk about her. 


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